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Dealing with the IDGAF Mentality of Personal Finance

June 15, 2015

Here’s the bitter truth — something that not even Mr. Saver wants to admit about me to himself — sometimes, I just don’t give a f*** about saving money.

Shock. Appall. Horror. Gather the fiery pitchforks.

Sometimes, I just want to buy things. I want to be able to purchase a new duvet cover or curtains for the office, a weekend trip somewhere close by, just to get away, or eat out an extra meal this week. Sometimes, I really want it to be easy. Sometimes, I want to spend the money we both work our asses off earning.

And I think part of budgeting, living frugally, and preparing for financial freedom means coming to terms with what that entails: sacrifice.

That feels like dirty word — sacrifice. It does not come naturally. I want what I want, and mostly, I want it sooner rather than later. It’s been such an emotional battle for me to learn to get over myself.

I’m figuring it out, though, and here’s how I am learning to deal.

Step 1: Embrace the wants.

In our home, we’re really trying to make giant strides forward, and cover a lot of financial ground quickly, but that means not buying things (and certainly not buying things “just because”). I started to get bitter, but honestly, self, that’s just wasteful emotions. It’s okay to want things. That’s what advertisements are supposed to accomplish (well done, marketers).

Want them, but don’t punish yourself for wanting things. It’s natural, babe.

Step 2: Make a wish-list.

Sometimes, the act of putting an item you want/covet/lust in a wish-list or creating a shrine-like Pinterest board is enough. It’s an actionable step, and it is proof that I’m not going without forever but just going without for now.

Or you could try this method (below) from Money Mozart writer, Chris Muller. His point in this article is facing frugalism vs. extremism. He says, “If you have already taken care of your future self, and you have the extra money, it’s okay to spend it on a want. What the hell did I just say? Yes – re-read if it you have to. You don’t have to be extreme.”

Try this

Grab a pen and some paper. Set a timer on your phone for 15 minutes. Take that time to write as many things as you can think of that you want. Once you run out of things to list, start writing down things that you need. When the 15 minutes is up, do a little self-reflection:

  • How does your list of wants compare to your list of needs?
  • Which did you have a harder time writing down?
  • What next steps will you take to fulfill those wants or needs?

It’s activities like this that can help us stay in check with what we’re spending our money on.

Step 3: Move on.

Whatever those wants are, prioritize. Save your money, find a side hustle (officially overused term, by the way), and buy it when you have extra money saved up for it, or don’t (and keep that cash, invest it, roll around in it on your bed). Either way, don’t let these things, the shit you just want to have just because you want, don’t let them rule you because, in the end, it’s just more stuff.

Budgeting and saving doesn’t necessarily mean going without, but it does mean practicing patience. Ultimately, I’d rather sacrifice now — that pair of shoes or the weekend trip — than give up days, weeks, months, or years of the future we want.

I personally don’t feel as though I’ll ever “overcome” the IDGAF mentality, but I can learn and grow as a person. Some days it’s easier to push the thoughts to the back of my mind, and some days the “I want this, I want that” is eating my brain like a zombie, but fingers crossed, those days will get fewer and farther between, right?

Sometimes, though, I’m still just not going to give a f***.

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